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William Shakespeare (1564 — 1616)

Lines  1- 5 .

All the world's a stage,


And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

stage  theatre exit  way out, outlet part  character


merely  only, simply entrance  way in, entry, act  perform, do something
players  group of actors, dramatists

REFERENCE:- These lines have been taken from ‘The


Seven Ages of Man’. This is a speech from William Shakespeare's well-
known comedy ‘As You like It’.

CONTEXT :- In this speech William Shakespeare compares our world


with the stage. All men and women perform different roles on the stage of this
world. The poet gives seven roles to a person during his life span. Each role or
stage differs from the other. Man’s birth is entrance on the stage and death is
departure from the stage.

EXPLANATION :- William Shakespeare calls this world a stage. He


says that we people are the actors of this stage. The poet observes a lot of
resemblance between our world and the stage. Our birth in this world is like the
entrance of an actor on the stage, and our death is like the departure of an actor
from the stage. The poet tells that a man performs seven different roles. Each
role or act possesses various features.
Lines  6- 7 .
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arm.
infant  newborn, baby puking  vomiting nurse  look after, foster
mewling cry with sharp Sound
EXPLANATION :- William Shakespeare compares the world with
stage with men and women as its actors. He says that one man in his life performs
seven different roles. The very first role is that of our birth. At this is stage one is
infant. He remains crying and vomiting. He is looked after by his nurse.

Lines  7- 9 .

Then, the whining schoolboy, with his satchel


And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school;
whining humming, buzzing creeping move silently, crawl unwillingly against your will
satchel school bag snail  small animal of water

EXPLANATION :- In these lines Shakespeare describes the second


stage of a man in the world. This role begins when one starts going to school with
school bag on his shoulders. The schoolboy's face shines because his parents
have washed him well. And he does not want to go to school.

Lines  9-11 .

And then the lover,


Sighing like furnace, with the woeful ballad
Made to his mistress's eyebrow.
sighing  breathe out noisily woeful  unhappy ballad  poem, song
furnace  heater, boiler

EXPLANATION :- In these lines Shakespeare describes the third


stage of man's life. This age begins when one happens to know all about love and
beauty. Being away from his beloved, are having been failed in his love-affair, he
sighs heavily and composes poetry in remembrance of his beloved.
Lines  11-15 .

Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Event in the canon's mouth;
strange  odd, extraordinary oaths  promise, pledge bearded  shave
pard  tiger, cheetah. jealous  envious, resentful honour  respect,
admiration
sudden  rapid, abrupt quarrel  disagree, fight seeking  search for sth.
reputation  status, name canon  a large gun
EXPLANATION :- In these lines William Shakespeare describes the
fourth role of a man on the stage of the world. The fourth the stage produces a
man as soldier. The soldier is very much emotional. He is desirous for fame, not
knowing that worldly reputation is temporary. He is ready to face all dangers and
troubles of life. It takes all risks boldly in order to gain fame and gain.

Lines  16-18.

And then, the justice,


In fair round belly with good lin’d.
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances.
justice  judge, nobleman belly  abdomen, tummy lin’d  lined, filled
severe  strict, harsh formal  proper, official wise  intelligent, clever
saw  saying, proverb instance  example
EXPLANATION :- In these lines, William Shakespeare describes the
fifth stage or role performed by a man or woman on the stage of the world. It is
the role of the justice or an official. He bears hard temperament and has beard of
formal cut. He is fond of eating and drinking. He knows much about tradition and
modern sciences. He is expert in his field.
Lines  19-23 .
The sixth stage shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, the world too wide
For his shrunk shrank;

shifts  change, move lean  bend, tilt slippered  loose, free


pantaloon  pant spectacles  eyeglasses pouch  small bag
hose  man’s garment wide  broad, large shrunk  get small,
minimize
EXPLANATION :- In these lines W. Shakespeare describes the sixth
role of an individual (player), on the stage of the world. This age shifts into old
age. Once come before the audience as very weak, thin and ill. This is a tragic
role which all human beings have to perform on this wide stage of the world. One's
body turns to weak and thin that his youthful hose does not fit his body properly.
His eye-sight being poor, he has spectacles. He always keeps the same all bags
with him.

Lines  23-25 .

And his manly voice,


Turning again towards childish treble, pipes,
And whistles in his sound;
manly  masculine male turning  changing treble  sharp sound
pipes  whispering sound voice  tone accent whistles  whistling sound
EXPLANATION: - Describing the sixth stage of man from “The Seven
Ages of Man”, W. Shakespeare makes fun of man's vocal condition at this age.
These vocal organs give up their proper function due to old age and illness.
Therefore, the poet observes resemblance between the voices of a child an old
man. The old man speaks as if a child.

Lines  25-28 .

Last scene of all,


That ends this strange eventful history,
In the second childishness, and mere of oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sense taste, sans everything.
scene  picture, sight ends  finish, closing stages strange  extraordinary, odd
eventful  exciting, lively history  the past, times past mere  only, simple
oblivion  forgetfulness, unconsciousness sans without
EXPLANATION :- In these lines William Shakespeare describes the
last role that we human beings have to play at any rate. None can avoid this stage
but dying young. This is the extreme old age. The poet terms it as the last scene
of the drama. After this scene the curtain drops. Our poet says that it is second
childishness. Because there are many things in common between a small baby
and an utter old person; for example, forgetfulness, absence of teeth, weak eye-
sight and poor sense of taste. A person is deprived of all charms of life. He
depends on others.